20 Instagram Strategies and My Recommendations

12 December 2019 | 10 Comments

Over Thanksgiving, I heard about the Instagram account for the US National Park Service. It features a series of beautiful photos, but with a twist: Almost ever photo is accompanied by a clever post that combines humor with fun facts about nature and wildlife. As the result of this brilliant combination, each post generates tens of thousands of likes, and the account is followed by more than 2 million people.

This strategy made me wonder about the various approaches other companies use on Instagram (the social platform that I initially discussed when I started using it in early 2018). I wanted to compare apples to apples as best I could, so I asked followers for companies that share Stonemaier Games’ principles and goals (in that they only release a few new games each year and have existed for at least a few years, focus on visuals and inclusivity, attempt innovative strategies, active on social media, try to put fans first, etc).

The following list contains many such tabletop game publishers in order of Instagram followers, followed by a summary and commentary. Hopefully these methods will give you some ideas for your Instagram strategy!

Stonemaier Games

Stats: 19,276 followers, ~600 likes/post, ~30 comments/post

Strategy: I post a pretty wide variety of photos: Most are of games I’m playing by other publishers, some are glimpses into my personal life (cats, adventures, food, humor), and the rest are photos of our games (usually photos of them being played, but sometimes I share a peek behind the current at the process or future releases). I try to end almost every post with a question to followers about favorites games, recent plays, or commonalities.

James Hudson (Druid City Games and Skybound Games)

Stats: 13,461 followers, ~200 likes/post, ~10 comments/post

Strategy: James posts a mix of photos of his games and media projects, photos of himself and his family, and photos of games from other publishers he’s playing.

Days of Wonder

Stats: 12,303 followers, ~400 likes/post, ~10 comments/post

Strategy: High-quality photos of their games (mostly staged shots plus a few photos of the games being played), some “enter to win” campaigns, and photos of the booth/volunteers/staff at conventions.

Roxley Games

Stats: 7,747 followers, ~160 likes/post, ~5 comments/post

Strategy: Staged, highly-quality photos of their products, typically with a singular focus on one specific component per photo.

Czech Games Edition

Stats: 5,602 followers, ~150 likes/post, posts either seem to have no comments or 50+ comments

Strategy: CGE posts a lot of photos related to the current season (their recent feed is full of gift-wrapped games and questions to readers about “what’s in the box”), as well as some photos of their games being played, their staff, and a few behind-the scenes photos.

Leder Games

Stats: 5,155 followers, ~400 likes/post, ~15 comments/post

Strategy: Lots of photos of digital art, photos of their games being played and component shots, and photos of their staff and volunteers at conventions. They also put text on many images to remind customers of upcoming dates and deadlines.

Awaken Realms

Stats: 4,049 followers, ~300 likes/post, ~10 comments/post

Strategy: Almost all photos of beautiful miniatures from their games.

Red Raven Games

Stats: 3,945 followers, ~400 likes/post, ~15 comments/post

Strategy: Nicely staged component photos from their games.

Plaid Hat Games

Stats: 3,833 followers, ~100 likes/post, ~5 comments/post

Strategy: A focus on revealing different characters and elements of new and existing Plaid Hat Games, as well as some photos of their staff/desigers.

Mindclash Games

Stats: 3,080 followers, ~250 likes/post, ~10 comments/post

Strategy: Lots of photos of the art and components in their games, as well as some photos from conventions. They also did a fun reveal of an upcoming game by dividing it into 6 separate images that piece together to form a cohesive whole.

Garphill Games

Stats: 3,013 followers, ~250 likes/post, ~20 comments/post

Strategy: A mix of announcements for their launches/pre-orders, prototype and behind-the-scenes photos, photos of their games on tables, and some personal photos. And yes, that’s me in the photo on the right–I got to meet Shem at Counter Culture in Wellington, New Zealand!

Restoration Games

Stats: 2,889 followers, ~150 likes/post, ~10 comments/post

Strategy: It’s pretty much a mix of 66% photos of their games and 33% photos of games from other publishers.

Inside Up Games

Stats: 2,287 followers, ~75 likes/post, ~5 comments/post

Strategy: A mix of photos from their games (more during active campaigns), photos of other games they’re playing, and photos of Conor.

Capstone Games

Stats: 2,167 followers, ~125 likes/post, ~5 comments/post

Strategy: Mostly photos of their games (box shots and gameplay), as well as some photos from conventions.

Thundergryph Games

Stats: 1,875 followers, ~100 likes/post, ~5 comments/post

Strategy: Staged photos of their beautiful games and components, usually with the name of the game somewhere in the photo.

Chip Theory Games

Stats: 1,654 followers, ~75 likes/post, ~5 comments/post

Strategy: Seasonal promotional posts, photos of people playing their games, and nice close-up photos of their game components.

Thunderworks Games

Stats: 1,190 followers, ~75 likes/post, ~5 comments/post

Strategy: A mix of close-up photos of their games, photos of their games being played, and games from other publishers.

 

Pencil First Games

Stats: 1,026 followers, ~75 likes/post, ~5 comments/post

Strategy: Quite a few photos of their game components interacting with non-game environments.

Summary and Commentary

It was really interesting to compile this list. Overall, it seems that the following approaches work well to increase and engage followers:

  • Share a variety of photos, not just one type (and not just photos of your company’s products).
  • Actively invite engagement by asking questions about preferences and guessing games.
  • Post consistently, not sporadically.

You may have noticed that I listed 19 companies in this post, so where’s the 20th? That’s you! I’d love to hear about Instagram approach (or any Instagram strategies you enjoy) in the comments below. Did I miss any companies that you consider to share Stonemaier Games’ principles and goals? [Update: I think Orange Nebula and Pull the Pin Games should have been on this list.]

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10 Comments on “20 Instagram Strategies and My Recommendations

  1. As someone who has a mild social media aspect to her job, I find it interesting that you have no discussion at all in this post about the use of stories. Full disclosure, I’m not the biggest personal adopter of stories, and I also don’t follow much in the way of board game instagram- I prefer to engage on twitter, and keep my instagram following to people I know- BUT I find stories to be crucial to brand engagement, especially when you need people to engage with your product specifically, eg playing a game, stories can present small video snippets of components, a clip of people playing, a tour of your booth at a convention, etc. It also, I feel, engages the generation younger than you and I a little more, who grew up on streaming video, not photos.

    They’re also time sensitive, as they disappear in 24 hours, and the ephemeral quality could drive higher engagement for a creator previewing their product- if they’re exclusive sneak peaks on your story, the FOMO may drive higher brand engagement/followers.

    Anyhow, my favorite guilty pleasure instagram accounts are opposite ends of the spectrum- Keith Lapining’s silhouette/cut out art is enchanting: https://www.instagram.com/artofkeithlapinig/?hl=en

    And Toilets with Threatening Auras is just a hilarious conglomeration of truly terrible interior design choices:
    https://www.instagram.com/toiletswiththreateningauras/?hl=en

  2. In my Instagram the spread is about 70% my art/games, 25% playing other games, and 5% pics of travels and such.
    Ive never asked Qs in my posts, as ive always thought of IG as a visual media more than a communicative one. I see much less commentary here than on FB or Tweets.
    It’s a fun medium to share in though!

  3. Jamey thanks for another fantastic article. We have an instagram account at instagram.com/whitewizardgames.com. I love having this list of board game publisher instagrams so that we can look and see what types of posts get the most engagement. My 16 year old daughter got involved and she showed me how to use stories and stickers and they are super fun. One way that we use stories is to share others’ content to help grow the overall community and provide additional interesting content to our followers – this way you help promote others but their content isn’t permanently on your page. I recently started a personal instagram which is more geared towards family games which is also a place that I can experiment with new strategies. I tried a giveaway in this post https://www.instagram.com/p/B4_Bqv8BBnq/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link since I noticed that giveaways seemed very popular on instagram and twitter. I was at 500 followers on Nov 17 and grew to over 600 after posting the giveaway. I think this strategy would be especially useful for smaller accounts looking to grow but I plan to try out giveaways on the White Wizard Games account next.

  4. This motivated me to revisit our social media strategy so thank you, Jamey! On the Pull the Pin Games account, the strategy I was most happy with from 2017-2018 was to post mostly things I like about other publishers’ games and then post about our stuff whenever it was relevant. But I have pretty much only had time to play prototypes in 2019 so I couldn’t keep that strategy going. Maybe I’ll set a New Year’s resolution to get back on track with that strategy or something similar. Thanks for the motivation!

  5. I’d say it depends on the image your company/brand is trying to convey. As someone mentioned, stories can work quite well if you need to post some content like a small update, but without going into people’s feeds. We usually do stories during game nights and when we’re at a con to show some bits of the atmosphere at https://www.instagram.com/pitchwisenet/. Good thing with stories is that you can send them to Facebook page, so both crowds can get an update where you’re at or what’s happening at your company.
    Question, though – do you think multi-image posts work better than single image posts?

  6. We try to at least post regularly whatever we’re playing once a week, its a good way to set yourself a date to keep up with what’s new and unplayed (or old and unplayed) its also a good way of progressing through campaign or Legacy games, though managing to post without spoiling anything can be tough. It also means you can put up regular posts when what you’re working on of your own stuff isn’t really ready to be shown off to the world at large. So hopefully there’s a post from us every Saturday night then with extra bits when something comes up.

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